Friday, September 24, 2010

Opposition Elites Unite To Save Census

This has been a good start to the kickoff of Parliament. The opposition parties have not been cowed by the increasingly threatening language coming from the right -- which of itself is a small victory. Mr. Harper's calls of "I'm going to make you pay for this come next election," have the sound of a school-boy's idle plaint and seem a bit flatulent. Especially when you add to that Harper and the gang's new crusade against Canada's elites.

 Who are these elites, you ask? Well, anybody living within the boundaries of Canada's major urban centers who is desirous of having people register their lethal weapons. Elitists! That especially includes anyone living in the GTA (greater Toronto area, for the uninitiated), Montreal, Ottawa and B.C.'s lower mainland. Elitists!Also included are those who are employed or studying in Canada's universities. Elitists! And let's not forget those employed in bureaucracies, cultural institutions and even boardrooms. All of them the elitists!

This would no doubt come as surprise to most of the people lumped into this group who spend most of their days striving and paying bills, raising children, going to pee-wee hockey games etc.. They likely see themselves as pretty regular folk with concerns they imagine are similar to other Canadians in urban and suburban centers. They would be wrong. They are in fact elitists who are standing  in the way of Mr. Harper's majority government and in the way of having his non-elitist agenda crammed down all our throats. The nerve!

So now the opposition, with the support of their elitist constituencies, are uniting in a bid to bring back the mandatory long-form census into the Statistics Act. This is being done with a private members bill being sponsored by Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, who says, “It's almost a sacred trust that we have with civil society that we will get them the information they need with which to plan, and whether that's the Bank of Canada, or the public health officials, or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, people are counting on this information and it must be comparable data with previous censuses.”

Eliminating the long-form census set off a wide backlash from a variety of opponents back in the summer, including religious groups, major charities, the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities, statisticians and academics, who we can add to the list of Canada's elitists. And you can toss in the Premiers of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and P.E.I. who have all balked, saying the loss of data would skew policy-making.

There are just some things from the Bush playbook that don't translate to Canadian politics -- no matter how hard you try. So now that the opposition recognizes that opposing Stephen Harper's ideologically driven agenda is likely to be good for their poll numbers I see heady days on the horizon for Canada's elites and even some non-elites too. As Mr. Layton noted the other day, "...rural voters are every bit as concerned as their urban counterparts about job security, the availability of health care and the quality of their children’s education,." Indeed. Those issues don't appear to be anywhere on Stephen Harper's radar, and that could cost him some non-elitist votes.

The Pope vs Richard Dawkins

Announcer: Hello and welcome to this much anticipated bout between the man known as the Holy See, Pope Ratzinger, and the Unrepentant Atheist, Richard Dawkins. With me is the redoubtable Chritopher Hitchens to provide colour. Chris, how do you think fight this shapes up?

Hitchens: I don't really think the Pope has much of a chance in this one. As you know I've written extensively about the Pope and believe he is responsible for obstructing justice on a global scale by covering up pedophilia and child-rape. It's been shown that he actually issued a confidential letter to every bishop and in it he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church's own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. So that pretty much neutralizes any blows he may attempt to land righteous blows and it leaves him an easy target.

Announcer: And still Pope Ratzinger started swinging the moment he touched down in England. Chris, what did you think of his opening jabs?

Hitchens: Well even there he fouled. Goodwin's Law was invoked with his comparisons of atheists to Nazis and the corollary to that is that the first person in an argument to mention Hitler or the Nazis loses the argument. So I just don't see how he can compete here. Those opening shots were the act of a desperate man!

Announcer: Well Hitch, you may be right. Let's review exactly how the Pope got things under way. Here's his opening salvo -- "As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society …" So we can see the ties he makes not only to Hitler there but to Stalin as well!

Hitchens: Right. I just don't see how how he can come back from that and move reasonable people to his point of view. I'm predicting it's going to be all Dawkins.

Announcer: Okay Hitch, Let's get ready to Ruuuummmmble!



Announcer: Whew! You sure called that one Chris!

Hitchens: Even I found myself feeling a bit sorry for the Pope there but he can always take solace in his hard core true believers -- he's just not going to reach anyone new with the kind of approach he tried upon landing at Edinburgh. But it does seems to be the only one they know.

Announcer: Indeed Chris! We'll see you next time everybody, 'til then good luck and believe whatever the hell you want. It's your right!